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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Eschatology of Marriage

 Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
Luke 20:34-36

Traditionally speaking, the institution of marriage by the Creator of Heaven & Earth has never been questioned, at least in Christian circles! Even among the avowedly non-Christians & Pagans, though its importance is often viewed as lesser, most recognize the usefulness of following the pattern established in Scripture of one man & one woman coming together for the purpose of procreation. In this day & age, we see examples, though, ranging anywhere from two people of the opposite sex marrying merely for mutual comfort & pleasure, to two people of the same sex coming together with seemingly no regard for the origins of the institution. This is not to say that the institution of marriage should only be for the purpose of biological procreation, just that the institution is almost universally accepted as one for mutual benefit!

There has always been question in the minds of theologians & students of Scripture as to what Jesus meant when He said ' those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage'. Some who believe in a fulfilled eschatology have gone so far as to say that marriage is no longer relevant in this New Age, while others, those who believe that eschatology has yet to be fulfilled, teach that in the coming New Age, people will 'neither marry nor ( be ) given in marriage'. Both of these groups are in error, clinging to a merely physical biological representation, or interpretation of Jesus' words. Clearly, as we are presently in 'the age to come', of which He spoke, this concept has persevered into the New Age!

What then, did Jesus mean when He said that 'The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage', but that in the New Age, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; did He mean to say that the institution itself would be done away with? God forbid! There are several ways this controversial saying could be interpreted: one is that those of who Jesus was speaking, 'the sons of this age' would not make into that New Age, or 'the age to come' & thus would never marry or be given in marriage, as their predecessors were. Yet another consideration is that the concept is eschatological & thus that its import is as well!

Now, before you lump me in with those who say that, since eschatology is fulfilled, the institution of marriage has outlived its usefulness, let me assure that this is not the case; again, God forbid! Eschatology was fulfilled in the Christ, this true enough; the End came as prophesied, but that does not mean that History itself came to and end, at least not as we think of 'the end', cessation. Covenant History, which the Story of Scripture chronicles, came to its End in the first century, when the Creator divested Himself of His glory to invest Himself into His Creation. Thus the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, for which the whole Creation groaned & labored with birth pangs, was fulfilled!

In this day & age, as the world bears witness to every day, the institution of marriage, though often diverted from its original purpose & form, is alive & well on Planet Earth! Eschatologically speaking, as the apostle Paul bears witness to his letter to the Church at Ephesus ( chapter 5 ), the institution of marriage serves as a picture of Christ & the Church, or the Marriage of Heaven & Earth ( I Corinthians 15:47 ). This is not to say that Marriage, like Eschatology, is Fulfilled, though in some sense it is & really, in the same sense!

As we have seen & bear witness to every day, the institution of marriage continues! A little play on words, there, but serious, although Marriage, like Eschatology, is Fulfilled, it endures as a picture of the Marriage of Heaven & Earth! Just as a physical, biological union does not end, or cease to exist, once the marriage has been cemented, so the Scriptural institution, though it was fulfilled by the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, or Christ & the Church, did not end in the first century!

The very fact that Scripture refers to the 'sons of this age', 'sons of God' & 'sons of the resurrection' should tell us, not that those who penned the Bible were sexist, though this may have been somewhat the case, but that Scripture referred to a certain person, that being the Son of God! The one to which Scripture refers is Israel, the Covenant People, or Son of God. Today, we are the 'sons of God' & 'sons of the resurrection' & thus, one might say, the on of God, corporately speaking, being the Offspring of that Marriage, which is fulfilled & being fulfilled every day, as more & more enter the Kingdom!

Marriage is not something to be taken lightly; it was given to men & women as a picture of something greater, something spiritual! As such, it is not something to 'enter into unawares', so to speak, but always with this in mind. The union of two bodies as one is not merely a physical manifestation, though it IS that, it is a blessed union of souls, or spirits, like the union we now enjoy with our Creator. The End of Eschatology came in the first century & with it, the End of Marriage; both were fulfilled in the first century & one might say, both are still being fulfilled, but to a greater extent!

Charles Haddon hank

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